On November 19 we will be voting on the position of director for Area ‘H’. Although this position carries less weight in the district than the municipal mayor, it is nevertheless our only voice. Please take the time to understand what this means for our future here and how your choice will impact our independence, taxes, and quality of life, in the future.
By now we have all seen some of the general material put out by the two candidates, Charles Weber and incumbent Brad Hope, but it was felt that some more direct answers were needed. Therefore we posed some questions so that everyone could see where they both stand on some of the concerns that relate to Coalmont and Area ‘H’ in general. Here is the e-mail which was sent and the answers we received.
Hello Charles and Brad,
I have put together seven questions which concern some Area ‘H’ issues. If you would be so kind as to address these then I can put them in the Coalmont Courier so that others can see where you both stand on, or even just what you think about, these issues. I will not edit your answers, so please try to not make them too long. I can publish a separate article if you wish to hold forth at length.
1/ How will you help individual communities retain their independence?
BH: Upon being elected I quickly learned how important our small communities are to those who live in them. Residents and non-residents alike take pride in their communities. Since being elected I have worked with every single community in our area on trails, fire brigades, infrastructure and building local participation. I was of course a strong advocate for a mail-in ballot and most particularly for separating the vote between the town and Area H. In was my motion at RDOS that brought about the vote separation. Both Charles Weber and Mayor McLean spoke aggressively in favour of keeping the vote combined with the town.
2/ Do you see a need for more effort being put into helping part-time residents (currently at 46%) to be included in the RDOS decision making process? (eg. making it easier for them to vote.)
BH: I certainly see a need for more part-time resident participation and have encouraged that process with things like a mail-in ballot. Most of the projects we have in progress throughout the area involve both full and part time residents. More than half of Area H taxation comes from part-time residents although they use fewer services. Part or full time, we are all friends and neighbours and we take pride in our communities and we all deserve a voice.
3/ Regarding centralized services in the Town of Princeton:
Should residents pay more, or less, toward Princeton infrastructure? What do you think about residents paying for the Princeton Library when in fact they previously voted against that?
BH: I am not opposed to contributing to the centralized services in Princeton. It benefits both communities. We both use the hospital services and we both should pay. We both save significant tax by sharing the landfill. Children from both communities use our recreational facilities and so on, but it has to be fair. To suggest for example that Area H should pay over 60% of an Aquatic Center in Princeton is neither fair nor equitable. In the case of the library we voted not to have it in on our taxes and we should therefore expect to pay a reasonable fee to use it.
4/ Five years ago the average age was 56 and rising. In view of the current amenity migration forcing up taxes, how will you help pensioners and people on fixed incomes to stay in the area?
BH: We look after those on fixed income. It defines who we are as a society. We need to make sure medical services are up to date, readily available and affordable. We need to keep taxes at a minimum for those that are on fixed income and we need to develop local programs so that it is not always necessary to travel to larger centers. When travel is necessary to Princeton, Penticton or Kelowna we need a transit option. Over the last two years both the Mayor of Princeton and myself have been pressuring BC Transit to expand services. Some of our recommendations are now being looked at by BC Transit and I am in discussions with the government on a pilot program to see if we can provide a bus service to Penticton and Kelowna and back once every 10 days to allow people to schedule medical appointments and return home on the same day.
5/ Leading up to the Aquatic Centre Referendum, there was a large number of people who felt that the democratic process was being subverted. This resulted in the voting structure being changed. How do you propose to help us avoid this kind of situation in the future?
BH: I was not opposed to an Aquatic Center in Princeton and never tried to stop the referendum, although I did request that it be postponed until such time as a much more fair, equitable and reasonable proposal could be put on the table. I did however fight tooth and nail to give Area H a separate vote and a mail-in ballot. In my mind the referendum as initially put forward was totally undemocratic. Thankfully residents came together and provided me with a petition with 833 signatures. With that in hand I was able to successfully separate the vote in spite of efforts by Charles Weber and the town. I believe that referendums that involve Area H should be held in the summer when most full and part time residents are present and Area H should always have a separate voice.
6/ Considering that the average travel time to and from Princeton is about an hour, how important do you think it would be to develop, or perhaps subsidize, some services in our various communities?
BH: I believe different communities have different views of how they would like to develop and what they would like in terms of local services. There are some basic needs that need to be available such as home care and some medical assistance for the elderly but on most issues I find the communities themselves need to determine what it is they want. It is my job simply to assist them in getting it.
7/ Area ‘H’ is unique in the RDOS in terms of the diverse and widespread communities. Are you in favour of removing the term “Princeton Rural” from the RDOS canon? (Except perhaps when referring to Princeton Fringe.)
BH: As a matter of fact I do think that “Princeton Rural” is a concept that has out grown itself. Allison Lake has an expanding park and trail system, a fire brigade and many other distinctive features. The same is true for all our communities. Coalmont, Tulameen, Eastgate, Missezula, Osprey Lake and Chain Lake have their own association, their own identities and other qualities that make them unique. We are not just suburbs of Princeton. This diversity is not only good for the individual communities, it is good for all of Area H and for Princeton as well. It makes for a much more interesting overall region.
Note: After several days and considerable encouragement we have been unable to elicit a response from Mr. Weber, and it would appear that he has nothing to say on these issues. It was decided to publish the article nevertheless. -Ed.